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the whole tune of a man's life ought to be played in that key.
Look, for instance, at Lord Hugo Fitzsurse seated in the private box at the Lyceum, by the side of that beautiful creature with the black eyes and the magnificent point-lace, who you fancied was ogling you through her enormous spy-glasses. Lord Hugo has a tuft to his chin, certainly, his countenance grins with a perfect vacuity behind it, and his whiskers curl crisply round one of the handsomest and stupidest countenances in the world.
But just reckon up in your own mind what it costs him to keep up that simple ornament on his chin. Look at every article of that amiable and most gentleman-like-though, I own, foolish — young man's dress, and see how absurd it is of you to attempt to imitate him. Look at his hands (I have the young nobleman perfectly before my mind's eye now); the little hands are dangling over the cushion of the box gloved as tightly and delicately as a lady's. His wristbands are fastened up towards his elbows with jewellery. Gems and rubies meander down his pink shirt-front and waistcoat. He wears a watch with an apparatus of gimcracks at his waistcoatpocket: He sits in a splendid side-box, or he simpers out of the windows at “White's,” or you see him grinning out of a cab by the Serpentine - a lovely and costly picture, surrounded by a costly frame.
Whereas you and I, my good Boh, if we want to see a play, do not disdain an order from our friend the newspaper Editor, or to take a seat in the pit. Your watch is your father's old hunting-watch. When we go in the Park we go on foot, or at best get a horse up after Easter, and just show in Rotten Row. We shall never look out of "White's ” bow-window. The amount of Lord Hugo's tailor's bill would support you and your younger brother. His valet has as good an allowance as you, besides his perquisites of old clothes. You cannot afford to wear a dandy lord's cast-off old clothes, neither to imitate those which he wears.
There is nothing disagreeable to me in the notion of a dandy any more than there is in the idea of a peacock, or a camelopard, or a prodigious gaudy tulip, or an astonishingly bright brocade. There are all sorts of animals, plants, and stuffs in Nature, from peacocks to tom-tits, and from cloth-of-gold to corduroy, whereof the variety is assuredly intended by Nature, and certainly adds to the zest of life. Therefore, I do not say that Lord Hugo is a useless being, or bestow the least contempt upon him.
Nay, it is right gratifying and natural that he should be, and be as he is — handsome and graceful, splendid and perfumed, beautiful -- whiskered and empty-headed, a sumptuous dandy and man of fashion — and what you young men have denominated “A Swell.”
But a cheap Swell, my dear Robert (and that little chin ornament as well as certain other indications which I bave remarked in your simple nature, lead me to insist upon this matter rather strongly with you), is by no means a pleasing object for our observation, although he is presented to us so frequently. Try, my boy, and curb any little propensity which you may have to dresses that are too splendid for your station. You do not want light kid-gloves and wristbands up to your elbows, copying out Mr. Tapeworm's Pleas and Declarations; you will only blot them with lawyers' ink over your desk, and they will impede your writing: whereas Lord Hugo may decorate his hands in any way he likes, because he has little else to do with them but to drive cabs, or applaud dancing. girls' pirouettes, or to handle a knife and fork or a toothpick as becomes the position in life which he fills in so distinguished a manner. To be sure since the days of friend Æsop, Jackdaws have been held up to ridicule for wearing the plumes of birds to whom Nature has affixed more gaudy tails; but as Folly is constantly reproducing itself, so must Satire, and our honest Mr. Punch has but to repeat to the men of our generation the lessons taught by the good-natured Hunchback his predecessor.
Shave off your tuft, then, my boy, and send it to the girl of your heart as a token, if you like: and I pray you abolish the jewellery, towards which I clearly see you have a propensity. As you have a plain dinner at home, served comfortably on a clean table-cloth, and not a grand service of half a dozen entrées, such as we get at our county Member's (and an uncommonly good dinner it is too), so let your dress be perfectly neat, polite, and cleanly, without any attempts at splendor. Magnificence is the decency of the rich - but it cannot be purchased with balf a guinea a day, which, when the rent of your chambers is paid, I take to be pretty nearly the amount of your worship’s income. This point, I thought, was rather well illustrated the other day, in an otherwise silly and sentimental book which I looked over at the Club, called the “ Foggarty Diamond” (or some such vulgar name). Somebody gives the hero, who is a poor fellow, a diamond pin : he is obliged to buy a new stock to set off the diamond, then a new waistcoat, to correspond
with the stock, then a new coat, because the old one is too shabby for the rest of his attire ; finally, the poor devil is ruined by the diamond ornament, which he is forced to sell, as I would recommend you to sell your waistcoat studs, were they worth anything.
But as you have a good figure and a gentlemanlike deportment, and as every young man likes to be well attired, and ought, for the sake of his own advantage and progress in life, to show himself to the best advantage, I shall take an early opportunity of addressing you on the subject of tailors and clothes, which at least merit a letter to themselves.
ON TAILORING - AND TOILETS IN GENERAL
Our ancestors, my dear Bob, have transmitted to you (as well as every member of our family,) considerable charms of person and figure, of which fact, although you are of course perfectly aware, yet, and equally of course, you have no objection to be reminded ; and with these facial and corporeal endowments, a few words respecting dress and tailoring may not be out of place: for nothing is trivial in life, and everything to the philosopher has a meaning. As in the old joke about a pudding which has two sides, namely an inside and an outside, so a coat or a hat has its inside as well as its outside; I mean, that there is in a man's exterior appearance the consequence of his inward ways of thought, and a gentleman who dresses too grandly, or too absurdly, or too shabbily, has some oddity, or insanity, or meanness in his mind, which develops itself somehow outwardly in the fashion of his garments.
No man has a right to despise his dress in this world. There is no use in flinging any honest chance whatever away. For instance, although a woman cannot be expected to know the particulars of a gentleman's dress, any more than we to be acquainted with the precise nomenclature or proper cut of the various articles which those dear creatures wear, yet to what lady in a society of strangers do we feel ourselves most naturally inclined to address ourselves ? — to her or those whose appearance pleases us; not to the gaudy, over-dressed Dowager or Miss nor to her whose clothes, though handsome, are put on in a slatternly manner, but to the person who looks neat, and trim, and elegant, and in whose person we fancy we see exhibited indications of a natural taste, order, and propriety. If Miss Smith in a rumpled gown offends our eyesight, though we hear she is a young lady of great genius and considerable fortune, while Miss Jones in her trim and simple attire attracts our admiration ; so must women, on their side, be attracted or repelled by the appearance of gentlemen into whose company they fall. If you are a tiger in appearance, you may naturally expect to frighten a delicate and timid female ; if you are sloven, to offend her: and as to be well with women, constitutes one of the chiefest happinesses of life, the object of my worthy Bob's special attention will naturally be, to neglect no precautions to win their favor.
Yes : a good face, a good address, a good dress, are each so many points in the game of life, of which every man of sense will avail himself. They help many a man more in his commerce with society than learning or genius. It is hard often to bring the former into a drawing-room: it is often too lumbering and unwieldy for any den but its own. And as a King Charles's spaniel can snooze before the fire, or frisk over the ottoman-cushions and on to the ladies' laps, when a Royal elephant would find a considerable difficulty in walking up the stairs, and subsequently in finding a seat; so a good manner and appearance will introduce you into many a house, where you might knock in vain for admission, with all the learning of Porson in your trunk.
It is not learning, it is not virtue, about which people inquire in society.
It is manners. It no more profits me that my neighbor at table can construe Sanscrit and say the “- Encyclopædia " by heart, than that he should possess half a million in the Bank (unless, indeed, he gives dinners; when, for reasons obvious, one's estimation of him, or one's desire to please him, takes its rise in different sources), or that the lady whom I hand down to dinner should be as virtuous as Cornelia or the late Mrs. Hannah More. What is wanted for the nonce is, that folks should be as agreeable as possible in conversation and demeanor; so that good humor may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society; the which to see exhibited in Lady X.'s honest face, let us say, is more pleasant to behold in a room than the glitter of Lady Zi's best diamonds. And yet, in point of virtue, the latter is, no doubt, a perfect dragon. But virtue is a home quality: manners are the coat it wears when it goes abroad.
Thus, then, my beloved Bob, I would have your dining-out suit handsome, neat, well-made, fitting you naturally and easily,
and yet with a certain air of holiday about it, which should mark its destination. It is not because they thought their appearance was much improved by the ornament, that the ancient philosophers and topers decorated their old pates with flowers (no wreath, I know, would make some people's mugs beautiful; and I confess, for my part, I would as lief wear a horse-collar or a cotton nightcap in society as a coronet of polyanthuses or a garland of hyacinths): - it is not because à philosopher cares about dress that he wears it; but he wears his best as a sign of a feast, as a bush is the sign of an inn. You ought to mark a festival as a red-letter day, and you put on your broad and spotless white waistcoat, your finest linen, your shiniest boots, as much as to say, “ It is a feast; here I am, clean, smart, ready with a good appetite, determined to enjoy."
You would not enjoy a feast if you came to it unshorn, in a draggle-tailed dressing-gown. You ought to be well dressed, and suitable to it. A very odd and wise man whom I once knew, and who had not (as far as one could outwardly judge) the least vanity about his personal appearance, used, I remember, to make a point of wearing in large Assemblies a most splendid gold or crimson waistcoat. He seemed to consider himself in the light of a walking bouquet of flowers, or a movable chandelier. His waistcoat was a piece of furniture to decorate the rooms : as for any personal pride he took in the adornment, he had none: for the matter of that, he would have taken the garment off, and lent it to a waiter — but this Philosopher's maxim was, that dress should be handsome upon handsome occasions - and I hope you will exhibit your own taste upon such. You don't suppose that people who entertain you so hospitably have four-and-twenty lights in the dining-room, and still and dry champagne every day?- or that my friend, Mrs. Perkins, puts her drawing-room door under her bed every night, when there is no ball? A young fellow must dress himself, as the host and hostess dress themselves, in an extra manner for extra nights. Enjoy, my boy, in honesty and manliness, the goods of this life. I would no more have you refuse to take your glass of wine, or to admire (always in honesty) a pretty girl, than dislike the smell of a rose, or turn away your eyes from a landscape. “ Neque tu choreas sperne, puer," as the dear old Heathen says : and, in order to dance, you must have proper pumps willing to spring and whirl lightly, and a clean pair of gloves, with which you can take your partner's pretty little hand,